Saturday, April 29, 2006

Day 2 Saasvelo (George) to Mossel Bay 8+ hours

116km 2020 meters

This day didn’t look too bad on paper, and it starts off well enough with an end to the rain. We even got a fair seeding, meaning that we get to start in the gated area “C” because we are close to the top third of finishers for the mixed category (male and female team). Unlike the Trans Rockies, there’s no “Masters Mixed” – which we would qualify for as our combined age is 80+. Instead, we have to ride up against the youngsters. The woman I sold my extra race entry to (Louise Kobin) is sitting with her male team mate in 5th position. Thus there must be some competition in this category as she’s a pro and has finished second in both the TransAlp and the Cape Epic in previous years.

We role along pretty well – but the day is still LONG. I’m riding a new chain, but its skipping like crazy – as bad or worse than the day before (but without chain suck). The racket its making is horrendous – and sure enough, after grinding it enough, the chain (new that it is) outright breaks about 2/3rds of the way through the day on a steep bit. URGH! Major mechanical, just when we are feeling like we are rolling along. By the end of the day, I ended up breaking the chain twice more – losing a total of six links, and sharply reducing the available gears for me to us. To add insult to injury, Carrie punctures on the last descent on some sharp rocks. Between our various mishaps, a couple of hundred people ride by and as a result, we’ll be downgraded to the “D” chute on the following day.

The day is also made difficult by a strong headwind.

The hotel was great – and we made the mistake of going to the race village for the South African version of the pasta party. The food was plentiful (always good) but not particularly tasty. Worst was all the loudspeakers blaring with the South African version of Polka music. A never ending banter of self-promotion for the race (arguing that it is bigger and better than any other – which is a backhand slap at the TransAlp) makes it hard to concentrate or talk at the dinner table. We did catch up with an exhausted Gordon and Jeffra. They came in less than two minutes after the cut-off time and thus, with their late finish on the prior day, are technically out of the race. As the Day 2 course was brutal as well (a lot of jarring), they made (a wise decision) to take a rest and recovery day on the following day.

I spent until late in the evening replacing the cluster and inner chain rings on my bike – under the assumption that a mis-match with the new chain, caused all the breakages. I also tried lubricating my shifter cable, as that was working in a very lame and clumsy manner as well. I’m kicking myself for not having come with a better shakedown on the bike (and more knowledge about swapping out mountain bike rather than road bike gear). It took me forever to swap out the parts. Fortunately, two of the other folks in our Premium Package (hotels rather than camps) had good tools and good knowledge. I had wanted the mechanics with the race to do all this, but they were so booked up that I had no choice but to tackle all this myself. And by 11 pm, there wasn’t much time to test the results of my effort. Didn’t sleep well as a result because of so much mucking around.

Official Recap

Stage 2 was very much enjoyed by the Epic riders as it was one of the most scenic stages in the history of The Cape Epic with a hint of African safari. The first fifty kilometers took the riders through forestry where they could enjoy spectacular crystal clear views all the way down to the sea. After traversing some rolling hills the more than 500 mountain bike teams entered Botlierskop, a Big Five Game Reserve North of Mosselbay. There, they did not only experience the best riding of the day with technically challenging up- and downhills but also wonderful views of the game in the reserve. Men’s leaders Christoph Sauser (SUI) and Silvio Bundi (SUI) had to share part of the path with two elephants and wildebeest, Mixed leaders Anna Baylis- Scheiderbauer and Jörg Scheiderbauer came across a pack of hyenas, and the leaders in the Women’s category, Sabine Grona (GER) and Kerstin Brachtendorf (GER) were welcomed by a herd of impala.

Teams felt stronger across the board including the top riders who all defended their leader jerseys today. “I felt much better”, said Christoph Sauser who crossed the finish line first (4:33.03), hand in hand with his team partner Silvio Bundi. “But that was mainly due to the fact that the weather was nice. The wind, however, was tough especially in the flat sections. There we all worked together. We were riding with Mannie, Kevin, Karl, Carsten, Johannes and Christian. For the last hour we were on our own, because we attacked on a steep climb and tried to gain a bit more lead time over the others.” Christoph and Silvio had fun on the technical descents in Botlierskop. Both regularly go on freeride trips in the Alps where they ride from chalet to chalet and are outstanding downhillers. When Kevin Evans (RSA) and Mannie Heymans (NAM) crossed the finish line in third position today behind the Swiss-German pairing of Johannes Sickmueller (GER) and Christian Heule (SUI) one could literally see the weight falling off their shoulders. “Today I was riding like a different person”, Kevin breathed a sigh of relief. “Everyone has a bad day from time to time and yesterday it was my turn. I have been blessed with a great season to date so I can’t really complain.”

“Today was a joyride”, raved Jörg Scheiderbauer who is leading the Mixed category with his wife Anna. “That was the best stage I have ever ridden in a stage race. I had so much fun.” His wife who had to keep up with him saw it a bit differently: “Today was really hard for me, especially with the wind. We rode with the leading masters almost all the way until kilometer 90 and it was unbelievably hard for me to keep the pace of the bunch. But I also enjoyed the downhill sections and the game viewing. I am exhausted, but it was a stunning ride.” At one point, the strong German couple was only ten minutes behind the leaders. Anna and Jörg finished the second stage in 13th position overall in a time of 5 hours, 11 minutes and 42 seconds. As organizers of two mountain bike races in Germany, the Scheiderbauers appreciate and admire the detailed organization of The Cape Epic. “We know how much work is involved in setting up an event of this magnitude and seeing it all come together so smoothly is an inspiration to us.” When asked what their secret is for riding so successfully together and still being married Anna replied. “We never fight at home, we only yell at each other in a race. Jörg is a very aggressive rider and yelling at me makes him even stronger, I guess. But I hate to be yelled at so I shout back. And after we’ve crossed the finish line all is forgotten.”

South Africa’s local heroes in the Mixed category, Anke Erlank and Fourie Kotze had a very bad day. First they missed a turn-off and rode 5 kilometres in the wrong direction until they reached a dead end, then going full speed in order to make up for the lost time Fourie crashed and severely hurt himself which slowed them down for the rest of the day. They came in fourth after 5 hours 40 minutes and 51 seconds.

Finishing in 11th position overall today were the leading Masters Geddan Ruddock and Linus van Onselen who only found out three weeks ago that they would take part in The Cape Epic 2006 and be paired together as a Masters team. “When I received a phone call from Linus that Absa was looking for a strong team to potentially win one of the categories and he suggested that we ride as a Masters team with our combined ages being 85, I replied that is the best news I’ve heard all year”, remembered Geddan who had resigned himself to the fact that he would not be taking part in the third Cape Epic months ago. “Yesterday, on the first 10 kilometres I had an adrenaline rush. I was so excited. I couldn’t believe that I was actually riding the Epic. Linus and I work in harmony. We both cycled the Argus and finished in the same time. That’s how we knew that we can ride together.” Last year, Linus placed third in the Masters category being the stronger rider in the team. “Now I am the weaker link”, he smiled, “but it is actually working to our advantage. Geddan is a very supportive partner and he helps me a lot when I am going through a bad patch.”

Sean Kristafor, national merchandise manager of The Cape Epic Race Village sponsor Cape Union Mart, was proud to finish in 67th place in his category. “It is great to be taking part in an event that our organisation is involved in and it really makes me proud if I look across our orange tents in the Race Village.” Along with Cape Union Marts impressive selection of products that riders may have forgotten at home such as headlamps, sleeping bags or hydration kits, they also offer unique products to the riders as part of their service. One of the most popular products after yesterday’s rainy stage is the Sports Dryzone drying system for shoes, a sachet filled with moisture absorbent granules designed to dry out shoes over night.

Tomorrow’s stage will lead the Epic riders over 122 km and 1800 vertical metres from Mosselbay to Riversdale. It is quite possible that this will be another windy stage and team tactics will come into play during the gravel road sections and rolling hills.


1. Team Specialized: Christoph Sauser and Silvio Bundi (SUI) - 04:33:03
2. Team Stevens Racing: Johannes Sickmeuler (GER) and Christian Heule (SUI) - 04:36:54
3. adidas Raleigh: Kevin Evans and Mannie Heymans. (RSA - 04:36:57


1. adidas Fiat-Rotwild: Sabine Grona and Kerstin Brachtendorf - 06:03:22
2. Mountainbike Revue: Elisabeth Hager and Sandra Lettner - 06:11:17
3. Homebrew Lite: Anna Sutton (AUS) and Juanne Marie King (AUS) – 6:57:43


1. ABSA Business Banking Services: Linus van Onselen and Geddan Ruddock - 05:09:03
2. CEV- Centre des Carmes: Jean Michel Borne and Thierry Moiroux- 05:25:07
3. dennis mccann: Ergee du Toit and Corrie Muller - 05:27:51


1. GHOST International: Jörg Scheiderbauer and Anna Baylis-Scheiderbauer -05:11:42
2. Dolores Maechler and Severin Rupp. - SUI - 05:24:30
3. Scott: Patric Mosterd and Yolande de Villiers - 05:27:20


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